Coming Out: Is Staples a Safe Environment for Students Coming Out of the Closet?

The rainbow flag has been used as a sybol for gay rights. | Photo from www.sxc.hu

The rainbow flag has been used as a sybol for gay rights. | Photo from www.sxc.hu


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The rainbow flag has been used as a sybol for gay rights. | Photo from www.sxc.hu

The rainbow flag has been used as a symbol for gay rights. | Photo from www.sxc.hu

Leah Bitsky ’12 & 
Alicia Lourekas ’12
Staff Writers 

 

 

Francis Furmanek ’10, an open bisexual student at Staples High School, is not concerned with being judged on his sexuality, and does not care if he is made fun of. In fact, if someone is ever curious with it, he is happy to share.

“I don’t care about other people. If they actually care about my sexuality, then we can talk,” said Furmanek.

Furmanek is comfortable with his sexuality and his own changing attractions. He described how at the moment, he is bisexual, and that he does not know what will come next. As of right, now he’s not concerned with choosing sides of being either gay or straight.

Other students however, find it a little more challenging to forget about what other people think about their sexual preference. In general, students accept different sexualities, but how people talk is another question.

“It is high school, so of course you hear things like people using ‘gay’ as slang for ‘bad’ and making fun of the flamboyant guys that go to the school,” said a former Staples student, who recently came out of the closet.

The student chose to stay in the closet at Staples, but not because it was not an unaccepting environment.

The student explained that he left Staples before he was ready to come out. Making the decision to come out, students said, takes time. Students worry about what their friends and families will think, about what they’ll say. They already know they’re gay—the students interviewed had known since they were small that they were gay and were certain by middle school.

To some, high school is a hard place to deal with being gay or another sexuality, because straight students are still getting used to the idea that friends and classmates might be gay. It is so new a concept that people do not know how to react.

“Sexuality is just another one of those things that people attack, because they think it’s funny,” admitted an anonymous bisexual student who hasn’t yet come out to her parents.

One male student came out to his parents, who didn’t really react. He is still not sure if they understand. A lesbian came out to her friend whom she had a crush on; the friend didn’t get it. Some students talk it through with gay friends or members of the school’s Gay/Straight Alliance before they come out. There are difficulties and obstacles.

“Teenagers want parents to give them unconditional love, but some gay teens sometimes feel rejection from parents, and can become very isolated. They think something is wrong with them,” said Julie Horowitz, social worker at Staples.

Acceptance by their parents and family is one of the most common concerns, when someone is deciding to come out during high school, said Horowitz.

Chris Fray, a Chinese teacher at Staples, had those fears himself when he came out to his family, he recalled. “When I came out, my parents were upset at first, but they came around,” said Fray. Although his dad was not as supportive as his mother at first, his father eventually began to understand that you can’t change someone’s sexuality.

Fray explained that another reason why students felt uncomfortable with coming out was because of the constant use of the word “gay” in the average teenager’s vocabulary.

“What I wanted was not to hear ‘faggot’ all the time,” said Fray. Furmanek also agrees that he is sick of hearing “that’s so gay” all the time.

Most gay, lesbian, bi, and transsexual students agreed that using words like “gay” or “fag” are more insulting than people think.

“You never know whom you might offend,” Mara Forbes ’10, an open lesbian student, said.

Even though kids may not be using it for the purpose of insulting gays, it still does hurt. Some students say they hear the words or phrases so often that it can seem as if the entire community is anti-gay. There are, they say, even students who have never come out of the closet as a result.

“Gay is not synonymous with stupid or annoying” said the anonymous bisexual student.

Fortunately, according to some students who have already left the closet, the Staples community is generally open-minded.

“Staples is the most accepting school environment that I’ve ever worked in,” said Principle Dodig. He went on to say that we have an extraordinary community and the acceptance of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transsexuals, has improved immensely since 40 years ago. In general, the school is open-minded, despite some of the anti-gay language.

“Other schools view Staples as a utopia for gay kids,” said Dan Woog, the boy’s soccer coach, and an openly gay man.

Coming out in high school can be difficult, because of the assumption of what will happen if other people find out they are gay. But hiding your own identity can be uncomfortable.

“The closet is a hell of a place to live,” said Fray.

 

 

 

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